(THE ASSISTANT) SAYS:
"Sandy, I don't think
it's fair that I received the same pay raise as everyone else. You and I both
know that my performance is better than that of anyone else at my level.
(THE MANAGER) SAYS:
"We are all part of a
well-functioning team here. We have many very good performers. Also, we only
have a budget of three percent for pay increases. In order to give some people
more than three percent, we would have to give others less than three percent.
That would be very demoralizing to some people and would hurt the team."
The assistant does not feel his good performance is
adequately recognized. The manager would like to pay him more but has been
ordered by senior management to give the same across-the-board pay increase to
"Frank, please come to my office at 10:00 AM for your annual
performance and salary reviews." Later that morning in Sandy's office, Sandy
said to Frank: "Your performance this year has been excellent. You are a top
performer in the department. I gave you an excellent rating on all ten rating
scales. Unfortunately, this year we only have three percent in the budget for
salary increases. Therefore, the management team decided to give everyone in
the department a three- percent pay raise. Your raise will appear in your
paycheck effective the first of next month. Do you have any questions?"
SOLUTION: WHAT THE ASSISTANT CAN DO.
Here are some additional things that Sandy can do.
- Be professional.
Frank needs to understand Sandy's position and
work with her to develop a win-win situation. He needs to step back and be
objective rather than emotional in his approach.
Frank can negotiate for perquisites (perks)
outside of the across-the-board three percent pay raise. He needs to be
creative in thinking about other resources that he can tap into other than the
salary budget. Perhaps there is special training he'd like to receive (maybe in
a fun, out-of-town location), or a plum assignment (like working the next
company trade show booth in Las Vegas), or maybe a new software package.
- Build a case for a higher raise.
For the future, Frank needs to start documenting
everything he does that is above-and-beyond his job description. He needs to
keep a folder for this purpose. He can include notes from projects he
initiated, outside-of-the-ordinary projects and tasks he performed, and any
added value that his efforts produced. He should also write summaries of any
courses he takes and document any new skills he learns. Prior to his next
performance review, he can write a memo to Sandy citing this data.
- Re-evaluate his position.
Frank needs to be realistic and take a
long-range approach to his career. Perhaps there is another role he can take
within the company that can fulfill his career goals. If he truly feels
unappreciated and cannot remedy the situation, then he needs to start planning
for a new job.
SOLUTION: WHAT THE MANAGER CAN DO.
Sandy and Frank have encountered a common dilemma of the
workplace. Our employee survey research, with over 40 participating
organizations, has revealed that 71 percent of employees do not feel that there
is a clear link between good job performance and pay increases in their
organization. Here are some things that Sandy can do:
- Recognize that pay is not the major reason
people stay committed to their organization.
Many managers fear that by not appropriately
rewarding good performance, the best employees will leave the organization or
that good performers will lose their motivation. These fears are usually not
justified. Employee commitment is due to many factors: their belief in the
mission of the organization; their relationships with coworkers; their
relationship with their supervisor;and their love of the actual work that they
- Provide more recognition.
Sandy should do a better job of providing timely
thank-yous and "atta-boys" to Frank. For most employees, ongoing recognition by
their supervisor for good work is more important than pay. Our research shows
that 67 percent of employees do not feel that they receive enough ongoing
feedback about their job performance from their supervisor.
- Provide other types of rewards.
There are other types of valued rewards for
employees that supervisors can use for good performers in lieu of pay
increases. For example, Sandy could periodically offer Frank time off, spot
bonuses, plum assignments, and special training.
- Properly deal with ineffective performers.
It can be difficult for good performers to
accept the fact that poor performers are receiving the same pay or same pay
increases. Our research shows that 63 percent of employees feel that poor
performance is tolerated in their companies. Sandy needs to identify and
appropriately retrain, discipline, or dismiss these employees from her
Pay dissatisfaction is a challenge both for employees and their
managers. Coming to a solution requires both parties to identify what is most
important to them, negotiate carefully, and maintain an open dialogue. They
must also think outside of the box. Pay dissatisfaction can be symptomatic of
other problems. Often the best solution is something other than merely more